Am I Ready for a Baby?
Your eyes linger a little longer on the baby you pass at the supermarket. You feel your heart swell and flutter as she gurgles and flaps her arms in your direction. You battle an almost primal urge to wrap the tiny, wiggling bundle in your embrace and snuggle her tight.
You don’t need a thermometer to know that you’ve got baby fever.
But the big question is…Are you ready for a baby?
For now, let’s set life circumstances aside. Everyone’s situation is different, so I’ll assume you have the wherewithal to judge your own living arrangements, relational status, and financial footing. In that regard, people have successfully cared for and raised children with very little.
What you’re here to decide today is not whether you can afford to have a baby, but whether your emotional lives are ready for a baby.
Is Your Heart in the Right Place to Have a Child?
Just imagine yourself reclined in a mountain of pillows, your dauntlessly supportive partner at your side, his arm around your shoulder as you both gaze adoringly at the tiny and impossibly adorable human being you created together.
Picture long, romantic family walks in the park, pushing Baby in his stroller while his wide eyes take in the colorful world around him.
Think of the enchanted evenings you’ll have gently rocking your sleepy baby as he coos sweetly, trying to harmonize with the lullaby you sing. Just before he drifts into dreamland, you’ll lay him in his crib before tucking yourself into bed for some well-deserved rest.
Envision the fun you’ll have planning Baby’s first birthday party, and then the second–my, our little man is growing so fast!
Think about giggles at bath time, cuddles at bedtime, the ring of food around Baby’s mouth at mealtime, the tiny snores at nap time.
Think of the pride you’ll feel with Baby’s first steps, the tingle in your cheek from precious baby kisses, the squeeze of chubby baby arms around your neck…
If you can picture yourself enjoying these moments, then congratulations, you’re ready for a baby!
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Hold. The. Phone.
Literally, pick up your smart phone, put it between your shoulder and your ear, put your backpack on your front, and stick both hands in a sink of dishwater.
You have now assumed Classic Mom Position 1. Practice holding this position for at least an hour, preferably two. You will need to be proficient at this stance.
This stance will be necessary when you take up baby-wearing after realizing that your baby will only nap when he’s being held, nap time is the only time you can get chores done, and in the spirit of multitasking, you call your mother to verify that your infant’s poop is the correct shade of disgusting.
This is a more accurate picture of motherhood.
And motherhood is freaking hard.
You might be ready to have a baby…but are you ready to be a mother?
The Bigger Picture
What you read a moment ago is just a tiny pixel in the bigger picture, in some ways even fictional. If motherhood was really that picturesque, we wouldn’t have mom memes. Motherhood is challenging and messy. It’s the most demanding and lowest paying career on the planet!
And truly, motherhood isn’t for everyone.
Who doesn’t love a few good rounds of peekaboo, or holding a peaceful, sleeping baby in their arms? Really, those things are the reward of motherhood, not the essence of it. Anyone can enjoy the ups, but not everyone can weather the downs (and retain their sanity).
First, there’s pregnancy.
Pregnancy isn’t just cute “bumpdates” and maternity fashion and photo shoots.
Pregnancy is endless nausea, and breaking down in tears because the grocery store didn’t have the exact kind of doughnut holes you were craving.
Pregnancy is getting stuck on the toilet indefinitely when your sciatica flares up and your husband isn’t home to rescue you.
Pregnancy is spending more time in the bathroom than in your bed because you bladder becomes a trampoline for a slam-dancing elephant baby.
Pregnancy is waddling around in your husbands clothes everyday because even your over-sized maternity wardrobe doesn’t fit anymore. And I literally mean you’re too big to wear a wardrobe.
Then, your baby is born
(or babies, plural)
Just when you think you’ve experienced the worst physical trauma of your life by pushing a watermelon out of a garden hose, you discover this ravenous little shop-vac needs to be fed by masticating your very flesh. For hours on end.
This newborn baby didn’t read all of the extremely informative manuals you did to know that she’s only supposed to be hungry every 2-3 hours.
She didn’t get the memo instructing her to feed-play-sleep in that order.
She hasn’t been taught that it’s impolite to interrupt one’s deep, non-REM sleep because she wants a snack.
You thought you were tired before? You’re about to learn that the only baby who sleeps is someone else’s.
And to think you used to consider 40 hours a week a “full time job.” Ha! Now full time means 168 hours, and there’s no department policy to ensure you get 15 minute stretch breaks and a 30 minute lunch.
Welcome to motherhood where the pay sucks and the baby sucks harder.
The baby will learn to
If you weren’t aware, the instant a baby develops mobility, he is simultaneously imbued with the skill of teleportation. In the split second you turn your back, he will be on the other side of the room with half of the check you haven’t yet deposited in his slobbery fist and the other half in his stomach. (Baby led weaning for the win).
Maybe you were bored with your cute little lump who just laid in the floor and flailed. Not anymore! Who has time to be bored when your number one task in life becomes playing freeze tag with baby Flash where you’re always “it” and the baby never freezes?
Suddenly, you discover the worldwide conspiracy to end the human race by designing every product under the sun with the dual function of baby extermination. Nothing is safe and your baby seems programmed for self-destruction.
What do you do when your nine month old screams like you’ve plucked his fingernails out one by one because you wouldn’t let him put his tongue in the electrical socket?
Motherhood will change you
Washing the dishes uninterrupted will become a luxury.
Your benign baby fever will mature into a malignant case of mom brain. You’ll find yourself starting the coffee maker without a coffee pot, wandering in circles around the kitchen trying to remember how to cook a glass of ice water, and trying to open the front door with the car key.
Some days you will feel possessed by an ugly monster and wonder who that sleep-deprived, makeupless, cranky face you see in the mirror belongs to.
Are You Really Ready For a Baby?
Are you ready to share your body with an insatiable nutrient-stealing, milk-sucking, energy-draining succubus?
Are you ready to share your space with exponentially expanding piles of baby paraphernalia?
Are you ready to share your furniture with a slobbery, drooling, clawing, chewing, puking, spilling, and eventually marker-wielding ball of energy?
Are you ready to share your time with an endlessly dependent freeloader?
Are you ready to share your husband with an affection-thief who will need even more of his time and love and attention than you do?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, never fear. If you’re not ready for a baby yet, here’s how you can prepare.
How to Mentally and Physically Prepare for a Baby
So you still really want a baby, but you’re not sure you’re entirely…ready. That’s totally fine! Here are a few exercises and activities you can do to strengthen both your body and your mind for the demands of motherhood. You can even involve your partner in many of these to train together!
1. Pregnancy Simulations
- Fill a sturdy backpack with the heaviest books you can find.
- Wear the backpack on your front, instead of your back. This will replicate your pregnancy weight gain.
- Layer on several thick sweaters to mimic the additional insulation you will have while 30-50+ pounds heavier than your normal weight, and turn off the AC/up the heat. This is to simulate a summer pregnancy, since you will almost certainly get pregnant around the winter holidays.
- For added realism, keep a small space heater set to high and near your being at all times. This is because you will have a tiny furnace heating you from the inside as soon as the baby is larger than a pea pod.
- Obtain a car battery.
- Connect jumper cables from the battery to your foot, and send electric currents spiking through your leg, hip, and pelvis.
- As best you can, attempt your normal, daily activities. The benefit of using a car batter is its portability.
- Practice moving from sitting to standing and back again while shocking yourself. Try walking, standing, and doing chores.
- This exercise serves to heighten your tolerance to sciatica.
2. The Newborn Phase
- For this exercise, obtain various sound bites of babies screaming.
- Use the alarm app on your phone to set off these cries/screams/shrieks at random increments of 30 minutes-2 hours, including at night.
- Now, do not mistake the goal of this exercise; it is not to help you sleep through or ignore these ear piercing sounds. Respond to your alarm quickly, as you do not want to become desensitized to the cries of your baby.
- This activity provides the repeated opportunity for you to drop everything you’re doing and run to the source of distress, even when you were sound asleep.
3. General Motherhood
If you want to get used to how you will look as a mom before actually becoming a mom, follow these instructions loosely, and take the liberty to freestyle and really make this look your own. Here are some suggestions:
- Skip showering for 4 days straight and only use dry shampoo
- Don’t shave your legs for 6 weeks
- Smear white toothpaste (spit-up) on the shoulder (or any other area) of your shirt
- Wipe dark eyeshadow under your eyes
- Only wear leggings and sweatpants, if you wear any pants at all.
Practice touching and smelling anything gross you come across throughout your day. Motherhood demands a strong stomach.
Other Tips for Success
- Join a gym and get jacked. You will need arms of steel when your baby decides she will only be fed while you are standing upright.
- Get a dog. It will clean up any edible and semi-edible messes a child may generate. Then instead of cleaning up after a baby, you will only have to clean up after a dog.
- Dump your recycling bin on the floor and practice walking across the mess regularly. You will need tough feet and good balance before attempting similar feats while carrying a fragile baby.
- Whenever you clean around the house, enlist a friend or your husband to follow behind you undoing anything you’ve done, and creating a larger mess than there was before. Crushed cracker crumbs are encouraged. You need to be long past giving a crap before the baby arrives for your own mental well-being.
- Carry all of your groceries into the house at one time. Never make second trips.
- Load your arms with as many bulky/awkward objects as you can carry at one time. Bonus points if something wiggles/moves/kicks/grabs.
Common Questions About Having a Baby
Can a baby save my relationship?
A baby can’t even wipe its own poopy butt. If you have a baby, not only will you still have to sort out your own problems, but you will also have an extra poopy butt to wipe in addition.
How did you know you were ready for a baby?
When I peed on a plastic stick and it said I better get ready.
What is the best age to have kids?
If you start with a newborn baby, you can sample all their ages.
What if I’m ready for a baby, but my partner is not?
That depends on whether you already have a positive pregnancy test…
How do I prepare my house for a baby?
Sell or store anything you don’t want pooped on, puke stained, broken, or colored on.
What should I buy before a baby?
An attorney, since buying babies is illegal.
How do I prepare to get pregnant?
Turn on some nice music, dim the lights, I don’t know, you do you, boo.
Are You Ready to Be a Mother?
Parents make a lot of sacrifices for their kids. When you have a child, your time is no longer your own. Neither is your food, your body, your money, your personal space, or anything you keep below a height of four feet.
You will see parents who are completely burned out, who love their kids, but look for a way to escape their responsibilities at any given chance, who always feel buried in to-do lists, and are near (or past) the breaking point.
You also see parents who (mostly) have their crap together, who don’t mind if their kitchen is a little messy if it means more time with their kids, who enjoy time as a family more than time apart, who are relaxed and laid back and content.
The difference is not the types of children God assigned to them. The difference is not the size of their houses, or the amount of money they have, or the proximity of
free babysitters extended family.
The difference is whether the small joys of parenthood provide enough fulfillment to eclipse the challenges.
It is a state of mind that any parent can choose to pursue, but for some, it comes more naturally than others. Personally, I firmly believe practically any human with a child can be a great parent, but if your heart is not in the right place beforehand, getting into that second group of parents will be an uphill battle.
Does that mean those latter moms only have good days and reap only the joys of parenting? Of course not.
Sometimes all I want to do is put my head through a wall. Sometimes I am frustrated to tears, snap at my husband for breathing wrong, and stress eat more than the Very Hungry Caterpillar on Saturday.
Sometimes, I feel like (and act like) a toddler myself.
I’m not perfect. I’m still striving to fulfill my calling as a wife and mother, and I always will be.
The Truth: You’re Not Ready to Have a Baby
No matter how much you prepare, no matter how much you research, no matter how badly you want children, you are not ready to have a baby.
If you plan to wait until you are ready, until circumstances are perfect, you will wait the rest of your life. Because unfortunately, the sun, moon and stars will not align for you.
Maybe You’re Feeling Trapped
If you’re already pregnant reading this, and you don’t feel ready, maybe you don’t even feel like you want the #momlife, the best advice I can offer you is to start working on your mindset this very moment. Pray for God to soften your heart to the needs of this child and surround yourself with uplifting people (especially mothers) who will support you.
[And just so you know, I can totally relate. My first baby was a complete surprise, and I felt like the timing was all wrong. If you’re in this boat and need some encouragement, let’s connect.]
But here’s the beautiful thing about having children…
You Don’t Have to Be Ready
So you’re not ready. How can you possibly be? Every baby is different, every parent different, every family’s life circumstances different…No baby book, blog, or online course can sufficiently prepare you for motherhood.
Does that mean you shouldn’t have children?
You need to examine your desires very closely and be brutally honest with yourself: Do you truly want a baby, or do you just want to want a baby?
In other words, are you bewitched by someone else’s gurgling infant in the supermarket, infatuated with the status of having a baby?
Do you crave parenthood with the very fibers of your being, so much so that a single smile or kiss would make the incalculable challenges worthwhile?
There’s nothing wrong with admitting you aren’t ready for parenthood. I have so much respect for women who recognize that they don’t want children, either now or in the future. Or women who want children, but don’t want to go through pregnancy. Or want children, but not babies. You get the idea.
When to Move Forward
It’s easy to imagine the idyllic scenes of child-rearing and feel the warm swell of longing in our chests. But the truth is that nearly anyone can enjoy the good days, the precious moments, the “baby’s firsts.”
Not just anyone will push through long days after sleepless nights, or walk miles around the inside of their house when their baby is tired but not sleepy.
Not just anyone is fulfilled by the struggles of parenthood, as well as the victories.
Not just anyone gleans enough joy from the tiny moments to carry them through the endless challenges.
But if you’re still undeterred, and you can honestly say that you are drawn to parenthood, and not just having a baby, then you should have a baby.
Because I know you’ll make a great mom.
Do you have baby fever? Are you considering motherhood? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Katie encourages new mamas to find their own parenting style by putting on their mom genes and tailoring their parenting instincts. Her interests include natural living, minimal-ish-ism, goal achieving, and finding new ways to stay awake during the day. You can find her Morning Routine Designer for moms with babies (and littles) on her website WearYourMomGenes.com.